I’m Eating Whole Foods & I’m Gaining Weight
Eating food from my own land changed everything.
If you would like to lose some weight and not diet – I challenge you to do what I did. No farm? No worries.
Eat what grows. Eat foods raised on farms. Eat foods when the are in season. Eat what your great grandparents did.
But – Wait – I’m gaining weight!
Y’all may want to grab a cup of coffee or tea, I feel like this is going to be a long one.
I had a wonderful experience in 2016 when I gave up groceries and ate only food from the hands typing on this keyboard.
It was an unforgettable summer. It was probably one of the best years of my life. I know that I complained most of the way through the challenge (read about it here), but once it was over the elation and new-found (food) freedom was exhilarating.
After the 101-day challenge ended, I missed it. I wished I could do it again.
So, this past summer, I did. I committed to a “Farm Fresh” summer. From May until September I only ate fruits & veggies I grew. I ate meat we raised (or hunted). I ate homemade bread from fresh-milled flour.
I did supplement with a few groceries, but 90% of the food I put in my mouth over the last 4-5 months came from my farm.
It definitely was not as revelational or mind-blowing as my first go-round. After all, the lessons had been learned, the slimmer version of my body was already here, and it had been done before. I knew what to expect.
At the same time, it was almost as thrilling as the first time and a lot more enjoyable.
I knew what to cook. I knew what to eat. I knew how good I would feel once I was a month into the project.
The Result of the Farm Fresh Summer:
- The number on the scale shrank again
- I again had the energy of my 20-something self
- I felt better, I slept better
- I ditched sugar (again) and I hate him (Sugar, that is)
The first time I ate only Farm Fresh foods (2016) I lost over 10 pounds. I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I didn’t plan to lose weight. I wanted to see if I could grow everything we ate for 101 days.
I liked the smaller version of myself.
This summer when I went Farm Fresh I did not expect much weight loss.
But once again, my clothes got bigger.
I received a sweet note from a reader asking about this.
Help! I’m eating whole foods and I’m gaining weight
I thought about this for days trying to decide how to answer her. We all know that our genes play a part in our body size and shape, but eating a healthy diet should naturally turn us into our best versions of ourselves.
I am more concerned with the health of my body than what the scale says.
I want to be healthy, have energy and give my body what it needs to heal, fight and be fueled.
There are folks who are completely against scales and I understand their reasons. At the same time, I do weigh myself pretty regularly. I am kinda tall, so I can gain 7 pounds before its noticeable. This is great and terrible. It’s great because my clothes fit and I look pretty much the same. It’s terrible because by the time I notice I’m gaining; I’m up 6 pounds, my boobs are lumpy and there is fat in my armpits. Ugh. I’d rather jump on a scale once a week and be aware which way I’m trending.
As I mentally walked through my days and what I typically shove into my mouth, some key maneuvers stood out. I have some habits and thoughts that may shine some light into this subject.
Eat Real Foods – Maintain a Healthy Weight
SIDE NOTE: I feel like I should state that I am not an expert. I have felt plenty unhappy with my weight more often than I’d like to admit. Some would probably look at me and decide I could stand to lose another couple pounds. I’m in this right with you guys.
ONE: What’s Your Right Weight?
We all have a weight that we will naturally gravitate to and is easy to maintain on a real food diet.
I may dream of being a size 4 but that’s not going to happen on this planet with my hips.
Additionally, I do not want to starve myself into a size that is hard for me to maintain. I’d rather be a size larger and eat . This is where I must stop comparing myself to others and be happy with the body I was dealt. If we are honest, we all probably have parts of our body we’d like to change.
TWO: What “Whole Foods” are You Eating?
PITFALL ONE: “The illusion of healthy junk food”
Did you know that you can buy organic, whole-grain, processed food?
Really – you can.
They give the illusion of healthy but are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There are no healthy junk foods. It doesn’t matter what the box says.
The only way to ensure our foods are indeed whole is to prepare them ourselves.
Whole foods are whole foods. They are foods in their natural state as they are found in nature – fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts, and WHOLE grains (like, whole, intact, kernels that you can grind yourself into flour). Almost all flour and baked goods from a supermarket (unless they are in the freezer section) are not whole grain. To read all about the lies we are being fed and the truth about “whole grain” go here.
PITFALL TWO: Get real
When I began a lifestyle of eating foods I grow I suddenly found out that what is being sold at grocery stores is quite different from what I could grow on my farm.
This was so enlightening for me. Which I confess is quite ridiculous. I’m not sure why, but I was suddenly wrecked by the fact that most of the produce sold in groceries was impossible. Much of it can not be grown in my area at all. Most of it only grows during one or two seasons. Yet, the stores are filled with everything from oranges to tomatoes to asparagus – year round!
Where is this food coming from? When was it picked? How far did it travel? Why do I think I need to eat tomatoes in January?
Once I started growing my food it was clear that asparagus was to be eaten in spring, tomatoes were meant to be enjoyed in summer, and winter squash is called winter squash for a reason.
The month I switched to my own farm-raised foods my diet radically dropped in fruit and sugar. No bananas, no mangos, no avocados, no oranges.
The only fruit I ate was fruit we grew (berries, apples, pears, peaches) and I only ate them when I picked them off our trees and vines. As you can imagine this is not a lot of fruit:
- Strawberries in May
- Blackberries & Raspberries in June
- Peaches in August
- Pears & Apples in September
THREE: Leave the Grazing to the Ruminants
When my children were tiny they ate constantly (curse those tiny tummies) and I usually ate along with them.
Now that they are all big kids we have all ditched the 2-hour snack intervals.
How to Avoid Over-Snacking:
- Stay busy. My life is probably more full than it should be and this makes it hard to snack. Today I got the kids going on schoolwork. I fed the sheep. Took care of the chickens. Fed the dog. Milked the cow. Fed & watered the pig. Moved 9 bales of hay from the loft in the barn to the sheep shed and stacked it. At 12:00 I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything and shoved some leftover roasted lamb & potatoes in my mouth before heading back outside to finish some work.
- I believe our digestive systems need a rest. I try to avoid chewing gum or snacking between meals. When we chew, our body makes digestive enzymes and (especially if we are chewing gum), there is noting for those digestive enzymes to digest. This is not good. We only have a limited amount of enzymes – so chewing all day is not a good habit.
- Grazing is for cows, not people. My mother-in-law says that southern women like to graze throughout the day. I’ve heard people say that it is healthier to eat 5-6 smaller meals than to eat 3 big ones. But there is plenty of information and evidence to support both sides of this debate. I tend to eat meals with one small snack in the afternoon (between lunch and dinner). I have done a couple Whole 30’s and they are against snacking as well. They recommend eating until you are satisfied at meals and then not eat until the next meal.
- My dentist hates snacks. There is always literature at my dentist office stating the damage to teeth caused by lots of snacking. Eating more often leads to a higher incidence of cavities and plaque.
In our home, we typically eat breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner (supper).
Great, healthy, snack ideas: vegetable juice (made fresh with my juicer), veggies, cheese, homemade dips, and hummus.
FOUR: Get Off Sweet Street
I don’t eat much sugar. I have lots of great muffin recipes and desserts here on the blog but the truth is, I don’t eat them often.
I think sugar is one of the reasons we carry around extra weight. I am fairly confident this is why I was 10 pounds heavier.
FIVE: Fully Processed = Fuller You
I think this goes without saying, but processed foods will make you fat. Processed foods are not natural (try to picture Cheetos, Velveeta, Cheezits, or Poptarts in nature). They are loaded with artificial ingredients. They are filled with hidden sugar. They even include chemicals that make you gain weight, want to eat more and crave them.
I avoid processed foods like the Devil. No white rice. No flour from stores. No pasta. No boxed foods. No canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil. No crackers. No chips. No cereal. Nothing that has been processed.
Even most dairy products sold at the supermarket are processed. Processed dairy is no longer the health food it was when it came out of the cow. When buying dairy look for cultured butter, raw, unpasteurized, or low-heat pasteurized milk products.
The roadside market across the street from my home sells locally-made, Amish butter that is fantastic and affordable. Real dairy products can usually be found if you are willing to look. Go to realmilk.com to find healthy milk near you.
Have you ever heard of the HGC diet? Well, I’m not recommending it by any means (and, for the record, I’ve never done it), but they have a ‘maintenance phase’ that helps dieters stay at their target weight. On days that the scale is not in agreement with your idea of a good weight, you do a 1-day loss plan to get your weight back on track. One of the most popular 1-day plans is the “steak day.” On a ‘steak day‘ the average person loses between 2-5 pounds. IN ONE DAY.
Guess what is served on the 5-pound weight loss day? As much coffee, tea, and water as you can drink and the biggest steak you can eat.
Here is the excerpt from their site:
A “steak day” for HCG Maintenance can be broken down into a few simple steps:
Eat nothing all day.
Drink plenty of water, coffee, and/or tea (unsweetened or use stevia).
For dinner, eat a huge steak (8-14 oz) followed by an apple or a raw tomato.
This will hopefully put you back within your HCG “range”. Average weight loss from a “steak day” is 2-5 lbs, but everyone responds differently. If you do not lose enough weight on your “steak day” you can do another. (source)
My point in sharing this is that eating massive amounts of the right foods won’t cause weight gain. In fact, it can make you lose weight.
At the same time, I do think portions are important.
I believe as Americans we are all over-fed. We are used to super-sized, large, generous portions.
What does a portion look like?
Here are some general serving sizes (from everyday health- source):
- Fruits – a serving is 1/2 cup
- Vegetables – a serving is 1/2 cup
- Whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, bread) – a serving is 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked rice or oatmeal
- Dairy – a serving is 1 cup milk or 1-2 oz cheese
- Eggs, Meat, Fish – a serving is 2-3 oz
- Nuts – a serving is 1-2 oz
I’m gonna save you the anxiety and tell you that I don’t measure anything and don’t keep track of how much or what I eat.
I love to cook with animal fats (pastured lard, raw butter, or bacon grease). Healthy fats (containing CLA) actually reduce belly fat and help you lose weight.
SIDE NOTE: Did you know we are supposed to consume 6-10 servings of fruits & vegetables each day? This is why I own a juicer. I can cram a couple stalks of celery, a cucumber, some carrots, and an apple through the hopper and drink 10 servings of fruits & vegetables in 5 minutes. More on juicing here.
Have you heard about Autography? It’s the newest in body cleansing and health. One of the ways to promote autography is fasting. Go here to read more about it.
I go on a mini-fast every day.
I don’t eat anything after dinner. Once dinner is cleaned up, I don’t eat again until mid-morning the next day. This gives my body a nice 12-15 hour break from food.
Eating in the evening or before bed is usually not a good idea. It can cause weight gain, erratic sleep, and heartburn. If my stomach is filled with food I toss and turn half the night. I sleep much better on an empty stomach.
If you get home from a stressful, busy day and must eat right before bed considering eating lighter, nutrient-dense foods (like lean protein, fresh fruit, vegetable, or an ounce of nuts). These healthy choices will keep your blood sugar regulated and not be stored as fat.
If you live an active lifestyle you will need to eat more. If you live a more sedentary life you will need to eat less.
I have no idea how many steps I take in a day, how many calories I burn or how much exercise I get. I can tell you that the only time I sit down is when I’m writing (which I love). I have a farm, about 60 animals, a huge garden, 4 children, and plenty of kitchen chores that keep me busy.
I call it “Farm CrossFit”
NINE: 3 Square Meals will Make You Round
I love to watch the cooking channels in my free-time (“free time” Ha Ha!). It seems like as a nation we have started to look at food wrong. Food has become about pleasure and indulgence instead of fuel and restoration.
I adore food. I love to cook. I love to eat. I make some of the best things I’ve ever tasted, but I use real ingredients and grow most of them.
Remember food is medicine. Enjoy your food, but eat it because it is good for you. Fill your plate with turnip greens, sweet potatoes, and creamed spinach – even if you don’t love them. They are good for you, and heck, you may start to like them. I did.
TEN: Navigating Restaurants
When I eat out try to stick with whole foods. I don’t get freaky about technicalities (sauces, spices, etc). I usually get a meat and veggies.
If we are eating Mexican I will get carnitas or fish tacos in lettuce wraps (instead of the tortillas) and beans as a side.
I realize that I can’t avoid everything, but I eat as clean as I can when away from home.
If you are doing all the right things and still not happy with your weight there could be another reason.
POSSIBLE REASONS FOR WEIGHT GAIN-
Stress can cause weight gain. It’s funny like that. Many people pack on weight when life gets crazy even though they haven’t changed eating habits.
IT TAKES TIME
This summer, when I went Farm Fresh I didn’t see much of a change in my weight until the end of the second month. I’m not sure why, but sometimes it can take a few weeks before the number on the scale begins to move.
WHAT YOU DRINK MATTERS
Zero calorie drinks and flavored waters can pack on pounds. Drinking sweet, flavored drinks can trigger your body to want more sweets. This stimulates your appetite, increases cravings for sugar and even promotes fat storage and weight gain (source).
To begin a whole-food lifestyle doing a Whole-30 is a great place to start.
What’s a Whole-30? It is 30 days of whole foods. It will open your eyes to all the wonderful food you CAN eat with abandon. It will reset your body and stop cravings. And it has nothing to do with weight. It is all about being healthy, being strong and filing your body with good foods.
The creators of the Whole-30 take it farther than I typically go (they don’t allow any dairy – not even from the cow in the yard & they don’t allow grains – not even fresh ground).
I typically live a Whole-30 lifestyle (with the addition of fresh-milled grains and raw dairy). This allows me to eat as much as I want, not feel deprived and stay healthy.
My personal Adventure on Whole-30:
I hope this information is helpful. I feel like I’ve really been rambling.
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Love to you guys!